Man in hot water over indecent exposure

A man was arrested for allegedly masturbating in a hot tub at the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool.

An Oak Harbor man was arrested this week for allegedly masturbating in a hot tub at Oak Harbor’s John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool, according to court documents.

Justin R. Burwell appeared in Island County Superior Court Thursday afternoon. Judge Christon Skinner found probable cause existed to believe he may have committed the crime of felony indecent exposure.

Under state law, the crime of indecent exposure is normally a simple misdemeanor but becomes a felony if the defendant has a prior conviction of indecent exposure or another sex crime. Burwell was convicted of indecent exposure two times in 1993, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said in court.

Skinner ordered 51-year-old Burwell held on $1,000 bail based on his history of not appearing for court hearings.

A report by Detective Sgt. Jenn Gravel with the Oak Harbor Police Department states that police received a lewd conduct report on Sept. 19. An employee at the pool, which is owned and operated by North Whidbey Pool, Parks and Recreational District, told police that witnesses saw a man, later identified as Burwell, committing a solo sex offense in public.

A surveillance video from inside the building showed Burwell get into a hot tub and masturbate while watching juveniles and adults swimming in the main pool, the detective wrote.

A woman and later a man got into the hot tub. Burwell turned his back to the couple but “clearly didn’t stop his activity,” the report states. The woman left and spoke to an employee. A lifeguard approached Burwell soon afterward and spoke to him, the report states.

The woman later told the detective that she was “in shock” and had trouble processing what she had seen.

The detective contacted Burwell a few days later. He denied the incident, saying that a woman was out to get him and made it up. The detective pointed out that she had video of the incident, and it was clear what he was doing.

“Burwell attempted to tell me it was his finger underwater,” she wrote. “I advised him it was not his finger.”